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HINDSIGHT – MERCEDES-BENZ TYPE 80


TECH SPEC


Mercedes-Benz Type 80 Engine DB603 Cylinders 12 Configuration 300-degree v Capacity 44,500cc


Compression ratio 8.5:1, turbocharged Induction mechanical fuel injection Boost 15lb/sq.in Fuel alcohol Power 2830bhp at 3000rpm


Transmission single-speed drive with hydraulic torque convertor


Top speed (claimed) 750km/h (466mph) Dimensions


Top: wire frame clearly shows how much longer the body was than the chassis it covered, the idea being to use the huge tail fins to stabilise the car at speed. Above: car now resides in the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart


SYSTEM PORSCHE Mechanically, the car borrowed heavily from Porsche’s design practice at Auto Union. Its chassis was a large diameter, twin-tube structure and the rear suspension used simple short swing axles located fore and aft by radius arms. But even as the car was being designed, the English drivers were moving events forward. In 1937, George Eyston’s Thunderbolt raised the record from Campbell’s 301mph to 312mph, and the following year to 345mph. That moved the goal posts significantly, although the


Daimler-Benz engine builders promised they could come up with more power to compensate. By the time the car was


complete in 1939, John Cobb, driving the Railton Special, had pushed the record to 370mph. But Porsche was promised as much as 3000bhp from the fast developing engine, so remained optimistic that the outright record was stil within their grasp. The car was due to run on the Dessau Autobahn in January 1940, during the RekordWoche (Record Week). But by now, world events were dominating and the event was postponed.


36 www.racecar-engineering.com • January 2011


Width – 1753mm (5ft 9in) Length – 8128mm (26ft 8in) Height – 1245mm (4ft 1in) Wheelbase – 4267mm (14ft) Track – 1295mm (4ft 3in)


Weight 2896kg (6385lb) “An


experimental DB603 was quoted as delivering 2830bhp”


By the end of the war, the car’s DB603 engine had been removed and returned and the car was parked up in a corner where the arriving Allied troops discovered it. Could it have been the


fastest car on the planet? When recording what they found, the Allies were quoted a top speed of 750km/h (466mph), considerably more than the record at the time. However, this was only an estimate of the top speed they expected the car to achieve, and it is notable that this figure was not exceeded by a wheel-driven car until 2001 when Don Vesco’s Turbinator managed 470mph for the flying mile at Bonneville.


Also, the 3000bhp hoped for


from the DB600 engine never materialised. An experimental DB603 was quoted as delivering 2830bhp, and this is the figure that appeared in the Allied report. Perhaps it could have been optimised for ground- level operation and exceeded 3000bhp, but more pressing matters during the 1940s prevented that from happening. Come 1947, John Cobb had


taken his Railton Special back to Bonneville, with backing from Mobil, and pushed the record to 394mph. This may have been the final nail in the Type 80’s coffin as the car was never resurrected. It now resides in the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart, having never turned a wheel under its own power, but remains a tantalising vision of what might have been.


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